Charged with Federal Crime: pay the fine, or fight it?


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io333
April 3, 2005, 08:55 AM
So there I was yesterday, in the National Forest, just driving around on my day off. I went down one dirt road, then another, then another and the road stops at a beautiful grassy field. "A beautiful place to fly my kite" I thought. (I keep a kite in my trunk).


So there I am flying my kite, (really) and a few minutes later appears Mr Park police who informs me that the "field" is actually a "pipeline," and that it was "obvious to anyone that knows anything about pipelines."

Huh?

Also, that the "road" I was on was an "illegal road" cut by "illegal hunters" and that I was not allowed to be on it. OK, sorry, I'll leave. Nope, here is your ticket. :rolleyes:

There were no signs anywhere on the way I came in. I went down another road for a while to see *** was going on, and then could see that at a different entrance to the field, was a sign saying there was a pipeline under the field.

I'm charged with a violation of 261CFR54a

http://frwebgate6.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=527615144688+45+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve


On the ticket is written "Entering Area Closed to Motor Vehicles"

I was just going to pay the ticket ($100), but then I got to wondering if there were any weird implications for this. It's a misdemeanor, but if this is going to start popping up on NISC or messing up my CCW/etc background checks, obviously I'll need a lawyer to fight it.

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Preacherman
April 3, 2005, 09:05 AM
If the area was not signposted, and there were no indications on the road banning vehicles, I'd fight it. Be sure to get good photographs of the area as it is NOW - just in case someone puts up a couple of signs a week before your court date!

A letter to the local authority concerned, or the U.S. Attorney, might be a good place to start.

io333
April 3, 2005, 09:11 AM
In my heart I want to fight it, but the reality is that I'd have to drive 150 miles to show up for for court at some as yet unspecified date, which would probably fall on a day that really messed up my incredibly busy life -- and that it would end up costing me a heck of a lot more than $100.


It's pretty easy to just write out a check and mail it in.

io333
April 3, 2005, 09:12 AM
And I'd also have to do another 300 mile round trip to the area to document everything.


:scrutiny:

io333
April 3, 2005, 09:19 AM
And in case anyone was wondering, I wasn't off-roading in some kind of monster truck, I was in a freaking honda sedan.

Brett Bellmore
April 3, 2005, 09:22 AM
Remember all those guys who pled guilty to "domestic violence", because the fine was cheaper than hiring a lawyer? And now they can't legally own guns?

Fight it. The fine today might be cheaper than the fight, but you never know what new penaties they might dream up a decade from now, to impose on you long after you've made the choice to pay that fine.

ksnecktieman
April 3, 2005, 09:35 AM
IF the road you drove in on is not posted with a sign, I think you should go the extra mile, for yourself, and all of us. Make a trip there with a video camera and film the route you drove to where you got the ticket. Make a copy of the video. Write an informative letter to the responsible court telling them it had no sign, and request that the ticket be voided, and include it with the video copy, registered mail, to the court.

If you are going to do it, do it soon, before the seedling signs grow to full height, they will grow very fast if the ticketing officer knows they were missing.

I am NOT going to tell you to tell the judge you have vacation coming from your job, and you will refuse to pay the fine, you will take time in jail, and let the feds feed you for ten days:). Which is what I would do, the judge has to decide where to use his limited resources. Make his expenditure too high to bother with you.

mike1966ga
April 3, 2005, 09:39 AM
I think this falls under the three rules........
Admit nothing, :cool:
Deny everything, :rolleyes:
Make counter accusations. :scrutiny:
In other words "Fight it"

R.H. Lee
April 3, 2005, 11:11 AM
Ditto what Preacherman said. You were on public land. There was no sign prohibiting vehicles on the road you accessed with your Honda sedan. If you don't want to travel back up there with a video camera, look into filing an affidavit with the court. Maybe some legal beagle will come along here and explain the details.

shermacman
April 3, 2005, 11:24 AM
I vote fight it. You have no idea what that $100 fine might add up to in the future. I read "pipe line" and immediately think that they have you on a Federal terrorist list. When you photograph/video tape the road, make sure you get a shot of your Honda. Make sure there is a child safety seat in the back with the kite.

Send it all in with a short (read "cheap") letter from an attorney. Let the judge know you are taking this seriously. As previous posters have said, make the judge look at this as a stupid parking ticket in the midde of a woods.

Graystar
April 3, 2005, 11:29 AM
Pay it. You were in the wrong.

Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on? The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been. I'd be very surprised if you weren't thinking that as you were driving down this sign-less road.

The case will turn on whether your action was intentional / result of negligence, or if you reasonably believed you were not violating any restrictions. For example, if you park your car at a curb where there is no parking, but the “No Parking” sign is gone, then the ticket gets tossed because it’s the state’s (or city’s or town’s) responsibility to keep the signs in good repair. However, if someone can prove that you knew there was supposed to be a sign there, the ticket will stand. For example, if the owner of the store in front of the no-parking area testifies that you had asked where the No Parking sign had gone, then that is proof that you intentionally parked in a no-parking area.

Most likely the judge will rule that you should have realized that something was not right.

2nd Amendment
April 3, 2005, 11:36 AM
Pay it. You were in the wrong.

Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on? The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been. I'd be very surprised if you weren't thinking that as you were driving down this sign-less road.

:what:

I...uh...huh?! (thinks about local park area) There's occasionally a sign saying where the next lake is. other than that, nada. There certainly are not signs everywhere and a sign in such locations is unusual for its very presence... As usual, I hope I'm just missing the punch line here.

Whatever, fight it. There is no "wrong" to be in here.

Bear Gulch
April 3, 2005, 11:39 AM
I would say fight it. They have an obligation to set up gates or signs. These are PUBLIC LANDS! FIght it. Out there they have gone in an established tank traps across fire roads to prevent access to aid in Grizzly recovery. I am a volunteer Fireman. Now we'll get blamed if it burns even though we cannot get equipment in.

The USFS management has been coopted by the eco freaks who want no use of these areas.

Graystar
April 3, 2005, 11:49 AM
There's occasionally a sign saying where the next lake is. other than that, nada. If the roads generally don’t have signs, and this illegal road (and its turnoff) has a look that is consistent with the park’s legal roads, then he might have a case...just like the person that parks illegally but the no-parking sign is gone. But if he takes a video of the road and it is markedly different from the legal roads of the park, he’s gonna lose.

justice4all
April 3, 2005, 12:20 PM
Letting the judge know that you intend to fight it will make no difference. It's the AUSA prosecuting the case that matters. If he or she knows you'll be fighting it, he or she might decide there are bigger fish to fry, and dismiss the case. Or they might not.

In CO, if there is no sign saying its a true Forest Road, that generally means it's an illegal road, and off-limits.

Are you sure it's a misdemeanor, and not some lesser offense or infraction?

shermacman
April 3, 2005, 12:26 PM
Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on? The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been. I'd be very surprised if you weren't thinking that as you were driving down this sign-less road.

I am going to take a wild guess that you live in a large Northeast city...! Lack of signs? There aren't any signs on my street for over a mile, yet there seem to be houses and other cars...we may all be committing felonies, but I doubt it!

ALHunter
April 3, 2005, 12:33 PM
I am a lawyer and I recommend you fight it. I don't deal in traffic/vehicle cases, but I know enough about that system to tell you to fight it.

Some thoughts:
1. you seem to want to just take the easy road and pay so you don't have the hassle of driving back a few times. Well, why post your original question then? If potential problems with your CCW is not outweighed by you having to take time off from work and drive 150 miles one way, I don't understand the original post. If there was a fantastic sale at a gun shop or gun show for something you really wanted, my guess is that you'd not hesitate to drive the 150 miles one way. IMO this seems even more important and thus even more worthwhile making the drive for and taking time off.

2. follow all advice above and go get video AND photo evidence ASAP. Make sure the photos have a date-stamp on them. Make sure you photo/video your car so it is unmistakeable you weren't there off-roading. Photograph the clothes you were wearing that day. If Mr. Ranger claims you were dressed in head to toe camo you can rebut that.

3. If it was an "illegal road" like Mr. Ranger said, some questions at court I'd have would be: Well, if it was an illegal road (a) why wasn't that posted [remember you'll have your photo & video proof showing it wasn't], (b) how long have you known it to be an illegal road?, (c) what have you done to prevent criminals or law-abiding citizens from traveling down this illegal road?, (d) how many other folks in your shoes has he ticketed? If a lot, and nothing done to post signs or prevent access to the illegal road, he looks foolish in the eyes of the judge.

4. Mr. Ranger, just like all LEO's, can exercise discretion. The fact that you were in a Honda sedan and actually flying a kite and he still ticketed you, IMO, shows he's a jerk. This assumes you were polite, professional, and nothing else was wrong with you, your vehicle, and how you conducted yourself. Thus, Mr. Ranger should be called to explain himself in front of the judge.

5. Last, if this was federal land you may appear in front of a federal judge or federal magistrate. Whatever your thoughts on the judiciary are, be assured that as a whole, federal judges/magistrates have a lot better sense than state court judges. Thus, you may fare a lot better if you do get your ticket adjudicated in a federal forum.

Just my .02.

Tory
April 3, 2005, 12:59 PM
What you tolerate, you validate;
What you put up with - you DESERVE! :eek:

Coltdriver
April 3, 2005, 01:11 PM
I would see if I could not arrange to speak with the prosecuting attorney or the equivalent of the DA for your court.

You can often get stupid charges tossed with a visit or a phone call. I have done it with several tickets.

Alternatively I would fight it but of course you know the cost of that to you in time off, mileage etc. Good luck!!

TimRB
April 3, 2005, 01:15 PM
"It's a misdemeanor, ..."

Are you sure about that? That is, I'm sure it's not a felony, but if it really is a misdemeanor rather than an infraction I would see a lawyer about it immediately. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, but they can't just be blown off, either.

FWIW, even if it's an infraction I would fight it.

Tim

MikeIsaj
April 3, 2005, 01:17 PM
So let me see if I understand this. You were willing to travel 300miles round trip to fly a kite but not to defend yourself against an unfair accusation that may affect other rights you exercise? Yes, I understand kite flying was not your objective but, do you get my point?

Talk to an attorney. This may very well be resolved without a court appearance.

If you received a summons, it is probably a summary offense, less than a misdemeanor.

I'm sure I'll get scolded for this but the theory that you should have known it wasn't a legal road because it wasn't signed as a legal road is just plain silly. On public land, permitted access is assumed unless clearly marked otherwise.

deanf
April 3, 2005, 03:18 PM
Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on? The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been.

You've obviously never driven on Forest Service land.

GhostRider-Nine
April 3, 2005, 04:11 PM
Pay it. You were in the wrong.

Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on?

Oh brother. He was wrong for being in the wrong place on the kings land huh? Signs on roads in a big National Forest? Are you kidding? Most of the time they were either never there, or torn down by vandals a long time ago and never replaced. This fellow was NOT in the wrong, and should fight this tooth and nail. :banghead:

BTW, did you know that ignorance of the law IS an excuse? The only time its not is in the case of "mala en se laws"....meaning something evil in itself, not just something regulated like no parking signs. After all, we all know that murder rape and mahem are wrong, but who could be expected to know the hundreds of thousands of assnine laws on the books.

Jeeper
April 3, 2005, 04:27 PM
Graystar,

All of us here in the west know that there arent sign on 90% of forest service roads. Arizona has thousands of miles of fire roads that are legal to drive on but have no signage at all. I guess NY isnt that way.

Fletchette
April 3, 2005, 04:42 PM
Well, in the words of several of the law-and-order types here, "If you can't do the time don't do the crime". :barf:

This is exactly the type of thing that I have long complained about. Many of today's "crimes" should not be a crime at all. I received a letter threatening a Federal warrant for arrest to be issued for me for something almost as silly - I camped on the wrong side of a trail. I had a permit and honestly did not think anything was wrong. Little did I know the permit was only valid for one side of the trail (North side was ok, south side was 'verboten'.) I was within 50 feet (not yards) of a sign that said "campsite", no sign on the south side. I paid the ticket by mail, and two months later I received a letter for failure to pay. I had to drive all the way back to the ranger station and straighten things out.

I'd get a lawyer immediately. The few hundred bucks you spend might just save you your citizenship.

It shouldn't have to be this way.


Soon, we will hear politicians ask, "Why do you need to keep a kite? "

shermacman
April 3, 2005, 05:08 PM
fletchette brings up a very good point: There are a whole lot of crimes that you haven't admitted to! No honest man should need to fly a kite past the age of 8 or 9. You had no sporting reason to fly a kite; indeed, you had no permit to fly said kite.

You have doubtless broken local, county, state and Federal aviation laws governing aircraft. You have acted in total disregard to wildlife preservation programs designed to protect denizens of the forest from "unnatural" acts such as the shock, confusion and fear of seeing a flying kite.

Did you consult the EPA about the possibility that your kite flying could disrupt centuries old wind patterns? No, you did not.

You in a heap o'trouble, boy!

sonny
April 3, 2005, 05:20 PM
Guys,tell me if I missed something but advising him to go back on that road to video tape his ILLEGAL journey might just get him a bigger problem.
By doing so he would be traveling down an off limmits road knowingly

ksnecktieman
April 3, 2005, 05:29 PM
Sonny? I disagree a bit. If there is no signs and he is recording that fact, it is public land, and permission is assumed. I do think if he sees a sign he missed before that he should stop and pay the ticket.

pete f
April 3, 2005, 05:33 PM
Just a note on federal proceedings. Fed Judges nad Magistrates HATE this kind of thing. I got a parking ticket for parking at a soft ball game held on the Old Fort Snelling land near MSP (MN) airport. There were signs on the fence I parked in front of, but they were complete rusted and not legible even at winshield to front bumper distances. I appeared at the appointed place at the appointed time and was met with very se-r-i-ous people wondering with firm politeness just what I was doing in the Federal Court House. I presented the ticket and said I was here to figth a parking ticket. Much consternation ensued and then i was escorted to a magistrates chambers to whom I presented a picture of the sign,which included a copy of the days newspaper as a date stamp, the Magistrate gave a mutted laugh and said "yup, hard to read, case dismissed," then said tomorrow morning in the paper you will read why the people outside are so upset. He pushed a buzzer and a couple of big US Marshalls escorted me out of the building and the whole way out they said nothing.
turned out they had arrested Sara Jane Olson, one of the SLA fugitives that day and were awaiting her first appearance and were fearfull of some sort of response.

Steelcore
April 3, 2005, 05:46 PM
Back in the late 80s a freind and I were flying our kites in a natioanl forest.it was obviously a kite flying area as there was dead kite debris laying around.A white helicopter flew over and observed us flying out kites.We did not try to bring down the helicopter by flying our kites at it.8-)
A few minutes later a ranger showed up and demanded we stop flying our kites.The ranger ran the serial #'s of our kites to see if they were stolen.All 15 of them.
We both got a ticket for flying our kites.I think they were $50.We both paid.Easiest way to deal with it.
I tend to agree with others in that you should fight because of the Lautenberg Amendment BS.
So far paying that $50 ticket hasn't caused me any problems.
I have C&R,CCL and routinely pass background checks to buy firearms.

Fletchette
April 3, 2005, 06:02 PM
The ranger ran the serial #'s of our kites to see if they were stolen.All 15 of them.

Are you serious?!? Serial number's on kites?

jefnvk
April 3, 2005, 06:19 PM
Yes, there were no signs. But aren't there usually signs on the roads you're supposed to be on? The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been. I'd be very surprised if you weren't thinking that as you were driving down this sign-less road.

As others have said, you need to get out more.

I've drive over 40 miles on one road system through federal forest, all old logging roads. NO signs whatsoever, when you come to a junction, you pull out a map and guesstimate where you are, and where you need to go.

This is in a Cavalier, the roads look just like dirt roads.

I can relate to the situtation, I'd fight it. Many times I've been on roads that I have no idea if I should be on or not. If it is important enough to keep people off, and it looks like a road breaking off a real road, they need to put up signs or gates.

Guys,tell me if I missed something but advising him to go back on that road to video tape his ILLEGAL journey might just get him a bigger problem.

The citation was for a car down that road, he could just walk.

HankB
April 3, 2005, 06:39 PM
The lack of signs should have tipped you off that you were someplace you shouldn't have been. Hmmm . . . so if something isn't explicitly allowed, it's automatically assumed to be prohibited?

Funny . . . I thought in this country, everything was allowed unless it was explicitly prohibited.

Standing Wolf
April 3, 2005, 10:09 PM
I'd fight it. I'd publicize the ludicrous "case" in my local papers. I'd write to my elected misrepresentatives. I'd be sorely tempted to file a counter-suit.

Graystar
April 3, 2005, 10:45 PM
Hmmm . . . so if something isn't explicitly allowed, it's automatically assumed to be prohibited?No. Like anything else, the determination is done on a case by case basis, based on the facts.

Funny . . . I thought in this country, everything was allowed unless it was explicitly prohibited.The prohibited conduct IS explicitly prohibited. I’m sure there’s a federal rules and regulations and whatnot book somewhere that has it. The issue is of publicizing the prohibition.

I once got a ticket for parking at a broken 2 hr meter for longer than 1 hr. Some time previous to that I had asked a traffic cop about the time limit when parked at a broken meter, and he said you can park up to the usual limit of the meter. Well, he was wrong. The regs say that a car can be parked at a broken meter for 1 hour max. I had to pay the ticket. There are no signs anywhere that state this, and it’s not in the drivers manual you get when you learning to drive. Yet, it’s the law and that’s that.

io333
April 4, 2005, 10:58 AM
Hi all, thanks everyone for so much advice!


I haven't read through the thread yet, I have a lot to do today first.


I *did* go back up there yesterday and video everything and photograph everything too. There were still no signs.


I'll try to get back to the thread tonight & come up with a plan... the preliminary plan has already formed though: I plan to fight! :D

jefnvk
April 4, 2005, 11:24 AM
The prohibited conduct IS explicitly prohibited. I’m sure there’s a federal rules and regulations and whatnot book somewhere that has it. The issue is of publicizing the prohibition.

Show me anywhere but in that Ranger's head that it was illegal to be on that road. States keep records of laws, you could look it up. I doubt there is a depository of roads that are illegal to drive on anywhere, that he would have thought to check up on before he went down it.

And just out of curiosity, was the Ranger in a truck? If so, why was he driving down the road?

Stickjockey
April 4, 2005, 11:37 AM
the preliminary plan has already formed though: I plan to fight!

Give 'em Hell, brutha'! :cool:

Graystar
April 4, 2005, 12:39 PM
Show me anywhere but in that Ranger's head that it was illegal to be on that road.I can't at the moment. I'm giving the Ranger the benefit of the doubt, and presuming that rangers can't write tickets for regulations that don't exist.

2nd Amendment
April 4, 2005, 01:10 PM
That's a mighty big presumption...

cracked butt
April 4, 2005, 01:13 PM
Fight it.

Don't give into extortion by government employees. Just like a lot of the illegitimate parking tickets written in cities, the ranger knows that it will be more of a PITA than its worth for you to fight it, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't fight it.

I would have told the ranger that if he had the ambition to come out and fine you, he should have had the ambition to fix or replace any missing signs. There are almost always some kind of markings or signs showing where a NG pipeline lies no matter how remote. I'm not sure what state you are in, but where I'm at, I've put on hundreds of miles driving down fire lanes and logging roads in public forests and rarely is there any kind of sign, let alone reference on a map as to what road I was on.

Graystar
April 4, 2005, 04:44 PM
That's a mighty big presumption...Are you really telling that the majority of tickets that are written out are for violations that don't exist?? Are you say that these guys are simply spotting you, deciding that they want to give you a ticket, then writing you up for something they just made up?

I think not. It is a reasonable presumption.

jnojr
April 4, 2005, 04:52 PM
I would fight it. Bring five photos of fields to court with you. Ask the park cop (and the judge) to pick out which one is the "pipeline"... :D

TallPine
April 4, 2005, 05:58 PM
In MT National Forests, the roads not open to public travel are nearly all clearly posted. Of course, it is always possible for someone to tear down the sign. And you have to look closely, because some roads are restricted during certain seasons and open during others.

Some areas are blanket restricted to certain roads, but there are big signs along the main roads going into those areas. Then virtually every 2-track is also posted within that area too. A FS map will detail all these road restrictions - practically to the point that you can't use the map for any other useful purpose because of all the red ink.

And BTW, we have a petroleum pipeling running just off the east edge of our property, and it is marked pretty clearly.

When kites are outlawed, only outlaws will fly kites.

PowderBurn
April 4, 2005, 06:59 PM
Did you get lippy with Ranger Rick? If not, where's the discretion on the part of this ranger? If he'd have found the poster chopping wood to throw on the bonfire he'd started so he had a nice place to lay back while drinking beer from the coolers stuffed into the back of is monster 4x4 with the woofers blasting, I could understand. But kite flying from the back of a Honda just wouldn't get ME riled up. This ranger must be from the Barney Fife Academy of Law Enforcement.

sonny
April 4, 2005, 07:53 PM
Just wondering if anyone can tell me if I am corect in assuming what I said in my previous post?

logical
April 4, 2005, 08:42 PM
I am amused by all the "get a lawyer, fight it, stand up for the american dream, set up camp over the pipeline and stand there with an AK-47 and make a big molan labe sign to stand under" stuff. Call somebody and find out if this is a parking tickey or a serious misdomeaner or something in between. I'd bet 99 to 1 it is a parking ticket level offence. Pay it and move on...it isn't worth the aggrevation.

And yes Sonny..you are correct. Don't feel bad nobody responded...most people on forums only read the first post and whatever they wrote in a thread.

shoot870p
April 4, 2005, 08:46 PM
National Forest? Should have been a USFS Ranger. also, the road should have had a gate or "tank-trap" at the end to prevent vehicle use. Common sense should prevail but...
later!

Graystar
April 4, 2005, 09:09 PM
Guys,tell me if I missed something but advising him to go back on that road to video tape his ILLEGAL journey might just get him a bigger problem.
By doing so he would be traveling down an off limmits road knowinglyYes, but not if you get permission, which should be given.

Graystar
April 4, 2005, 09:13 PM
Pay it and move on...it isn't worth the aggrevation.Actually, THAT I don't agree with.

Yes, I think io333 should pay it, but because I suspect he was negligent. You should always fight any fine you get if you truly believe you are in the right.

io333
April 4, 2005, 09:14 PM
I am amused by all the "get a lawyer, fight it, stand up for the american dream, set up camp over the pipeline and stand there with an AK-47 and make a big molan labe sign to stand under" stuff. Call somebody and find out if this is a parking tickey or a serious misdomeaner or something in between. I'd bet 99 to 1 it is a parking ticket level offence. Pay it and move on...it isn't worth the aggrevation.


Hi all, I just got home and I'm starting to look into this.


The above quote is what I think is the first question that needs to be answered. If it is just a "parking ticket" then my strategy will certainly be different. I posted the relevent statute at the beginning of this thread, but I can't figure out what the maximum penalties are, or what "type" of offense it really is.

To quickly answer the some of the questions here, I am very clean cut, was pretty well dressed for the woods, I was in a late model car, I was VERY RESPECTFUL and extremely polite towards the FEDERAL officer (after reading too many horror stories on the net, you know what I mean). In turn, the officer was also very polite and respectful and not at all threatening, but he was determined to write that ticket and did not care that there was no way I could have known I was in a "forbidden" area. Maybe it's slow these days and he was bored? He actually seemed like a very nice person -- except for the fact that he wanted to write that ticket and nothing was going to stop him.

Signage was essentially nil: there were occasional 2x4" posts in the ground with numbers wearing off marking the road number, and that was it.


I do appreciate the concern, but please hold off with the "get a lawyer" posts for the time being. Believe me, I *know* of the importance of having an attorney representing me should the time that I need one; I also understand the danger (and stupidity) of representing one's self.


I have everything pretty well documented with video and photos at this point. At the moment I'm wondering if, perhaps on Thursday, when I have time, I can figure out who the head prosecuting honcho is at the Federal District court, (where I would have to appear if I plead not guilty), and then see if maybe I can write him/her a letter documenting everything along with the photos and the vid, and the follow up with a phone call and see if I can get it all dropped informally.

Cosmoline
April 4, 2005, 09:16 PM
In general I think federal workers are unfairly blamed for the laws they have to enforce. But the NPS is run and staffed by genuine jackboots from top to bottom. In Alaska and the lower 48 they go out of their way to be abusive and controlling over any citizen who dares set foot on "their" property. Frankly I hate the entire agency, and I sure hope you're able to fight them on this absurd citation. The guys make the Mississippi cops of old look like model public servants.

io333
April 4, 2005, 09:31 PM
OK, the link I posted for the statute was dead. Here is another:

36 CFR 261.54(a) (http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/12feb20041500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/julqtr/36cfr261.54.htm)





And here is the text:



TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY

CHAPTER II--FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

PART 261_PROHIBITIONS--Table of Contents

Subpart B_Prohibitions in Areas Designated by Order

Sec. 261.54 National Forest System roads.

When provided by an order, the following are prohibited:
(a) Using any type of vehicle prohibited by the order.
(b) Use by any type of traffic prohibited by the order.
(c) Using a road for commercial hauling without a permit or written
authorization.
(d) Operating a vehicle in violation of the speed, load, weight,
height, length, width, or other limitations specified by the order.
(e) Being on the road.
(f) Operating a vehicle carelessly, recklessly, or without regard
for the rights or safety of other persons or in a manner or at a speed
that would endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.

[42 FR 2957, Jan. 14, 1977, as amended at 46 FR 33521, June 30, 1981]




I note that what he wrote on the ticket: "Entering area closed to motor vehicles" is not the statute he cited on the ticket, but I doubt that would matter?

deanf
April 5, 2005, 12:25 AM
But the NPS is run and staffed by genuine jackboots

and I sure hope you're able to fight them on this absurd citation.

It's not Parks. It's Forest Service.

Robert Hairless
April 5, 2005, 06:31 AM
I note that what he wrote on the ticket: "Entering area closed to motor vehicles" is not the statute he cited on the ticket, but I doubt that would matter?

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Of course it matters if there really is a discrepancy between the charge he wrote on the ticket and the statute he cited on the ticket. If the statute doesn't support the charge he has not cited his authority to make the charge. And if he is demonstrably ignorant in that material respect he presumably is ignorant in other respects too. Equally important is that his sloppiness supports the impression he gave you (that he wanted to write that ticket no matter what). He wanted to write that ticket even if he did not know what law or rule you might have violated, or whether you in fact violated any law.

The officer was malicious as well as careless. He evidently wanted to entrap innocent people so that he can write tickets: if in fact that was an illegal road you innocently entered, he knew it was an illegal road before you innocently entered it but he did not cause a sign to be posted there to warn people away from it. That is not the way an official of the United States Government should behave, especially not towards citizens of the United States.

Your way of proceeding seems sensible to me. In your situation I would make the above points in addition to those you plan to make. I would also say in the letter that you hope to receive early notice that the ticket is rescinded and no charge will be brought against you so that you will not be further inconvenienced by being forced to hire a lawyer to defend you in court. I'm not a contentious person but if I were in the situation you describe I most certainly would do that.

One more point, if you don't mind. The statement on that ticket is factually inaccurate. You could not possibly be guilty of ""Entering area closed to motor vehicles" because in fact it was not "closed to motor vehicles." Had the area been closed to motor vehicles you could not have entered it in a motor vehicle. It was open to motor vehicles although, according to the person who gave you the ticket, it should not have been. That's his fault or the government's fault. It's not your fault.

Graystar
April 5, 2005, 10:02 AM
I note that what he wrote on the ticket: "Entering area closed to motor vehicles" is not the statute he cited on the ticket, but I doubt that would matter?What he described was the actual act, and it is a necessary part of the description of the infraction.

When a person is charged with theft, the charge must also include what was stolen. The charge will say theft of TV and stereo, but you're not going to find that written in the statues anywhere.

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